Robert Corfe, political scientist, author, freelance journalist, industrial publicist, and founder of the politico-industrial philosophy of Social Capitalism, has been a life-long student of the social sciences, with broad interests in literature and the arts, in addition to addressing questions of economics and industry.
He has been continuously active in political life, in association with parliamentary groups for more than a quarter of a century, both nationally and locally, and only finally repudiated affiliation with party politics in June 2008, in the need of maintaining neutrality at the time of deciding to found and organise the Social Capitalist Network.
After a long career in senior management in manufacturing industry, in international marketing and export sales both in this country and abroad, he then became a management consultant advising SMEs (small and medium sized firms), usually in the engineering sector, as a trouble-shooter. Appalled by the collapse of British manufacturing, failing management, indifferent training, and poor industrial relations, he established the Campaign for Industry (CFI) in 1987 in an attempt to reverse decline. The founding meeting was hosted in the City offices of Unity Trust (bankers to the trades unions) by T.B. Thomas, later Chairman of the Co-operative Bank, and whilst Robert Corfe was elected to Chair the new association, Lord Gregson of Stockport was elected its first President.
In the years which followed, Corfe wrote many pamphlets, published by the CFI, highlighting the diverse problems adversely affecting British industry, researching and making comparisons with more efficient and socially equitable economies in Continental Europe and the Far East. In 1980 he became a Founder Member of the SDP, and during the following years he was elected on three occasions to the Council for Social Democracy. Whilst a party member he became active in the Tawney Society; the Industrial Reform Group, led by the eminent industrialist, George Goyder, who for many years fought to change company law in extending ownership and managerial rights to ordinary workers; and was pleased to accept David Sainsbury’s invitation to join the Industrial Policy Association in 1985. During his time with these bodies, he got to know and became friendly with many leading industrialists – several of whom are household names.
In September 1988 he became a lapsed member following the split between the SDP and the Liberal Democrats which occurred during the Conference held in Sheffield. It was then decided that the CFI should abstain from involvement with party politics, and for several years Corfe remained free of party affiliation. With the difficulties encountered in building up the Campaign for Industry’s membership, he again had a change of mind. It was thought that the association should draw on the interests of the trades unions, but it was only with Tony Blair’s election to the Labour party leadership in 1994, and only with his assurance that the party was repudiating the divisiveness of class that Robert Corfe felt he could join the movement without compromising his own principles, or risking the neutrality of the CFI.
For the following 14 years he was a committed activist: on the national level, he contributed papers to the Labour Finance & Industry Group (which advises the front bench) and on one occasion, on request, agreed to stand for election as Chairman of that association. He also served on the Committee of the Full Employment Forum, led by Roger Berry MP under the Presidency of John Edmonds of the GMB; and later he served on the Steering Committee of Labour Reform, and subsequently was active in Save The Labour Party and other similar associations.
By 2006 he realised that the New Socialist project was doomed to eventual failure for a variety of reasons, most concerned with the psychological mindset of those on the left and the priority covertly given to class struggle in preference to addressing substantive issues affecting real people. The story of this disillusion with Labour and the left is described in his book, The Death of Socialism the irrelevance of the traditional left & the call for a progressive politics of universal humanity, which appeared in January 2009.
Over a 3-year period he worked intensively on producing the tetralogy of what was to become the source material for the Social Capitalist Network, viz., the 3-volume work, Social Capitalism in Theory & Practice, and its introductory volume, Egalitarianism of the Free Society and the end of class conflict. These four books were to appear early in 2008.
In March 2009 appeared, Land of The Olympians papers from the enlightened Far North, being a selection of his leading articles published in the Finnish press during the 1960s. These were put into a contemporary context through a long introductory chapter entitled, Seeing the Future through the Past, for many of the articles compare the socio-political forwardness of Scandinavia compared with the relative backwardness of Britain at the time. The book is also interesting in tracing the genesis of the author’s political ideas.
Under different pseudonyms he is also author of the following four autobiographical books: My Conflict With A Soviet Spy the story of the Ron Evans spy case (Eddie Miller) describing his adventures in Scandinavia in the 60s; Death In Riyadh dark secrets in hidden Arabia (Geoff Carter) based on his experiences as a businessman in the 80s; The Girl From East Berlin a romantic docu-drama of the East-West divide, describing a love affair which began at the close of the 50s; and, Our Swindling Finance Houses their exploitation of the vulnerable (Guy Tallice), vividly describing the scams of Allied Dunbar, published in book format in 2002. It was only through unemployment during the late Thatcherite era, and because of his humiliation and shame at having become inveigled into the financial services industry – the guile and iniquity of which he was only to learn in retrospect – that he chose to use a pseudonym in writing this book.
His ten-year residency in Scandinavia, during which he embarked on a successful journalistic career, in addition to a business career in Germany, has given him a particularly valuable perspective of the endemic socio-political problems in Britain and elsewhere, that is denied those who have not enjoyed employment and residence abroad. It has also afforded him a special appreciation of the success of social democratic societies which are renowned for their freedom, egalitarianism, and prosperity, and the richness of this experience is amply reflected in his socio-economic and political writing.